Cutting Baby Fingernails

How to Trim Baby's Nails With Ease

mom trimming sleeping baby's nails


If you're like most first-time parents, you might feel a little worried about cutting your baby's nails for fear that you will cut them too short or nip the skin. But if you don't keep your baby's nails cut, those paper-thin nails can become tiny weapons. Not only can they leave scratches on your baby's face, but they also can leave little wounds on you when your baby's grabs for your face or necklace.

Consequently, as much as you might want to avoid tackling this issue, you need to make sure you're keeping your baby's nails trimmed. If you're worried about trimming your baby's nails or you're just not sure how to do it, here are some fingernail trimming tips to help you get started.

Gather Nail Trimming Tools

When you're ready to trim your baby's nails, gather your baby manicure set. There are several different tools from which to choose.

For instance, basic fingernail clippers that come in a miniature size are one of the most popular choices for trimming baby's nails. Some even have extended handles to improve your grip. You can also find nail trimming scissors and baby nail files too.

Experiment with each option to determine which style you are most comfortable with.

If baby fingernail trimming tools don't already come in a handy storage kit, consider how you plan to store them to make finding them again next time around easier. Whether you purchase a small cosmetic bag or toss your tools in a zippered sandwich bag, having the baby manicure set together can cut down on those minor frustrations the next time you trim your baby's nails.

Learn How to Trim Nails

If you've never trimmed your baby's nails, it's normal to feel a little apprehensive. But trimming your baby's nails is pretty straightforward. If you're especially nervous or your baby is particularly small, you may want to start by filing your baby's nails instead of clipping or cutting them. But if you're ready to clip your baby's nails, here are the nuts and bolts you need to be know.

  • Use a firm grip to hold on to your baby's hand so that they don't jerk it away at an inopportune moment.
  • Hold onto the finger you're trimming between your thumb and index finger.
  • Use your index finger to push the fleshy part of the finger pad down and away from the nail.
  • Clip a very slight arc along the fingernail's curve.

Wait Until Baby Is Distracted

You want to choose the time for nail clipping wisely. For instance, nail trimming sessions may go much more easily if you cut them while your baby is either asleep or busy feeding.

If you choose to trim your baby's nails while they are feeding, you will likely need to get someone to help you—especially if you are breastfeeding. Also, keep in mind that fingernails are easiest to trim after a warm bath. So make checking them a normal part of your bath routine, and then you won't forget to do it.

Use Good Hygiene

Some people might suggest that you completely forgo baby nail clippers and just "chew" or "bite" off your baby's nails instead. But fingernail biting is a bad habit all the way around.

Not only is your mouth filled with germs, but so are your baby's fingers. Plus, you will get a very raggedy edge along your baby's fingernail. Instead, stick with using proper—and clean—baby nail trimming tools. Save the nail-biting for suspense movies.

Be Prepared for Any Accidents

As frightening as the prospect might be, there's a good chance you'll cut a little too close sometime. So keep a tissue or some gauze on hand.

If there is any bleeding, hold the tissue or gauze along the cut for a few minutes or until the bleeding stops. But don't put a bandaid on your baby's finger. If your baby puts their fingers in their mouth, the bandaid can come off and pose a choking hazard.

While these accidents can cause you to feel awful about injuring your baby, try not to beat yourself up. You are not the first parent to trim too close. With practice, and by going slow, you will get the hang of trimming your baby's nails.

Tackle the Toes, Too

Finally, do not forget that your baby's toenails may need trimming, as well. Generally speaking, toenails do not grow nearly as fast as fingernails. So you may not need to cut toenails as often.

Follow the same guidelines as above, but keep in mind toenails should be cut straight across without any rounding or tapering at the corners. Cutting straight edges will help prevent ingrown toenails.

A Word From Verywell

Even though you may be worried about trimming your baby's nails, don't fret about it too much. As long as you use baby-sized tools and pick a time when your baby is distracted or sleeping, you should do just fine. Then, afterward, you can rest in the fact that you accomplished an essential baby-care task.

By Jennifer White
Jennifer White has authored parenting books and has worked in childcare and education fields for over 15 years.